Background: Hypoxia-induced mitogenic factor (HIMF), a lung-specific growth factor, promotes vascular tubule formation in a matrigel plug model. We initially found that HIMF enhances vascular endothelial growtn factor (VEGF) expression in lung epithelial cells. In present work, we tested whether HIMF modulates expression of fetal liver kinase-1 (Flk-1) in endothelial cells, and dissected the possible signaling pathways that link HIMF to Flk-1 upregulation. Methods: Recombinant HIMF protein was intratracheally instilled into adult mouse lungs, Flk-1 expression was examined by immunohistochemistry and Western blot. The promoter-luciferase reporter assay and real-time RT-PCR were performed to examine the effects of Hl MF on Flk- expression in mouse endothelial cell line SVEC 4-10. The activation of NF-kappa B (NF-κB) and phosphorylation of Akt, IKK, and IκBα were examined by luciferase assay and Western blot, respectively. Results: Intratracheal instillation of HIMF protein resulted in a significant increase of Flk-1 production in lung tissues. Stimulation of SVEC 4-10 cells by HIMF resulted in increased phosphorylation of IKK and IκBα, leading to activation of NF-κB. Blocking NF-κB signaling pathway by dominant-negative mutants of IKK and IκBα suppressed HIMF-incluced Flk-1 upregulation. Mutation or deletion of NF-κB binding site within Flk-1 promoter also abolished HIMF-induced Flk-1 expression in SVEC 4-10 cells. Furthermore, HIMF strongly induced phosphorylation of Akt. A dominant-negative mutant of PI-3K, Δp85, as well as PI-3K inhibitor LY294002, blocked HIMF-induced NF-κB activation and attenuated Flk-1 production. Conclusion: These results suggest that HIMF upregulates Flk-1 expression in endothelial cells in a PI-3K/Akt-NF-κB signaling pathway-dependent manner, and may play critical roles in pulmonary angiogenesis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine